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The International R.D. Laing Institute


Society for Laingian Studies


From the point of view of a man alienated from his source, creation arises from despair and ends in failure. But such a man has not trodden the path to the end of time, the end of space, the end of darkness and the end of light.

He does not know that where it all ends, there it all begins.

- The Politics of Experience [More...]

What's New?

Augst 20, 2014

New Book:

Cover: The New Politics of Experience and The Bitter HerbsTheodor Itten and Ron Roberts

The New Politics of Experience and The Bitter Herbs

A lot of what is done in the name of psychotherapy and psychology is driven by motives which are base, shallow and commercial. Theorising of the human condition too often follows the ideological fashions of the day, which can be described as biological/corporate fundamentalism. This toxic mixture not only mystifies the general public but also makes epistemological slaves of professional psychologists. As neoliberal capitalism continues its forward march, this book considers its influence on the divide between academic psychology and the psychotherapeutic art of healing. Theodor Itten and Ron Roberts explore these issues from their respective positions on each side of the psychotherapy/academic psychology divide. Calling for a return to a new, authentic and vibrant Politics of Experience, their examination – elaborating the interplay of practice and theory with everyday experience – is both personal and critical and provides an unusual perspective on what it means to practise in the present day.

See more at
Flyer (download pdf)
Full details and to order online

April 10, 2014

New Book:

Cover: Bruce Scott Testimony of Experience: Docta Ignorantia and the Philadelphia Association CommunitiesBruce Scott
Testimony of Experience: Docta Ignorantia and the Philadelphia Association Communities

Today, there are few places left for people to escape our modern plight; the cognitive and neuroscientific imperialistic discourse of mental distress. Testimony of Experience is an attempt to transcend this oppressive discourse. It does so by presenting over 40-years-worth of the experiences of ex-residents of Philadelphia Association (PA) communities. These were set up by R.D. Laing and others in the 1960s as a response to reductive medical and scientific theories of mental suffering.

The tyranny of scientific certainty and striving for ‘knowing’ so prevalent within our state-sanctioned ‘mental health’ institutions deprives us of other ways of accommodating our curtailed subjectivities, of what it is to suffer, to live, to be human.

This book re-examines an ancient dictum which is dying out today - the Docta Ignorantia - the doctrine of wise unknowing. Through a philosophically informed critique of positivistic research methodology and an analysis and deconstruction of interviews with ex-residents of the PA communities, this book asks the question that must be uttered to regain our subjectivity; is there room for wise unknowing in mental suffering in a world of certainty?

See more at

October 25-27, 2013

A Weekend Symposium Addressing R.D. Laing's legacy and contemporary relevance in commemoration of the 25th Anniversary of his death.

Wagner College, Staten Island, NY

Fritjof Capra, Ph.D., Keynote Speaker
Betty Cannon, Ph.D.
Darlene Ehrenberg, Ph.D.
Brian Evans, Ph.D.
Andrew Feldmar, Ph.D.
Steven Gans, Ph.D.
Miles Groth, Ph.D.
Theodor Itten
Douglas Kirsner, Ph.D.
Stanley Krippner, Ph.D.
Alma Menn
Peter Mezan, Ph.D.
Maureen O'Hara
Chris Oakley
Andrew Pickering, Ph.D.
Leon Redler, M.D.
Kirk Schneider, Ph.D.
Martin A. Schulman, Ph.D.
Mina Semyon
Ross Speck, M.D.
Michael Guy Thompson, Ph.D.

Friday, 24. August 2012 - R.D. Laing’s Psychotherapeutic Compassion

A dialogical talk by Theodore Itten and Murray Graham Gordon

“Imagine you freak out, come to the end of your tether, can’t hold it together anymore. Where would you go? Imagine you enter a way of being and experiencing the world, which other people call mad, and your nearest and dearest can’t cope with your presence any longer. To whom would you turn?”

R.D. Laing (1927–1989) asked this question, framing a larger range of questions concerning what we owe one another when someone loses their way. Both presenters knew and worked with Laing personally and lived in the therapeutic communities he established in London. This evening elucidates Laings’s integrative therapeutic approach, his profound understanding of sanity and madness, and his awareness that without sympathy there is no healing.

at Open Center New York
Wednesday, October 10, 8–10pm 12FP88P
Members: $22 / Nonmembers: $25

more Informations

Friday, 24. August 2012, I like to inform you all, that on October 2012, a new book on Ronnie Laing’s life and work will be published.

CoverR.D. LAING : 50 years since ‘THE DIVIDED SELF’
Edited by Theodor Itten & Courtenay Young
PCCS Books (2013)

Ross-on-Wye Together with Courtenay Young, Editor of The International Journal of Psychotherapy, I have collected and edited this book. There are twenty four authors who joined in, and we begin our Introduction as follows:

With this book, our authors and we, the editors, commemorate and celebrate in our various ways, the 50 years (or so) since the publication of R.D. Laing’s: The Divided Self, in 1960. He was then 33 years old. He began writing his first book shortly after he entered clinical practice in the Royal Gartnavel Hospital, Glasgow, in 1953, developing his style of relating to patients, listening to them, and conveying his experience by getting his ‘voice’ going. For Laing, the epistemological basis for the science of a person became empirical phenomenology: the ultimate definition was not some erudite theory, but what could actually be seen and heard. In this, he was quite radical and – for him – this was also somewhat transformational.

What was Laing’s basic message just over half a century ago? First of all, it is imperative to listen more carefully to the ‘mad’ communications of all the people that are similar to those who are portrayed in ‘The Divided Self’. Maybe they are not as ‘mad’ as they seem; maybe they are just ‘divided selves’. Whilst simple, this was revolutionary. For centuries, society (we) had excluded, ignored, imprisoned, laughed at, and been afraid of these ‘mad’ people. De facto, their ravings could not therefore be sensible, but Laing just asked us to listen more carefully and take some of their personal ‘stories’ into account: maybe then they would make more sense than heretofore presumed. If you start to ‘be’ with these ordinary people, much like you and me, in a more courteous respectful way, you may find that they might open up to you some of the treasures of their hidden true selves.

See an overview (incl. Contents)
download pdf

The Book is published 20.10.2012
For more Information: please visit

Presently this Site of The Society for Laingian Studies will remain as it is, more for archive research than continuous news, as it has been for years, when looked after by the founder and webmaster Margareta Carr.

For Laingian-News we have the pleasure to direct you to the new R.D. Laing Institute hosted by the R.D. Laing Association:

11. November 2011 - After a long hiatus, I am pleased to announce that the Society for Laingian Studies website is back up!
I want to thank Theodor Itten for taking over the site. The site’s founder, Margreta Carr, has decided to go on to pursue further projects. I have agreed to continue as the director and both Theodor and I are dedicated to continue the history of excellence with the site that Margreta established with the founding of the site. There is much going on in the world of Laingian scholarship and I look forward to bringing everyone up to speed as quickly as possible. Thank you for your patience and please continue to check back for updates.
Brent Potter

18 April - The earthly ball a peopled garden*
In a demonstration interview with a young woman, Christy, (diagnosed 'intractably paranoid schizophrenic') at the 1985 Evolution of Psychotherapy Conference, Ronald Laing responded to Christy's expressed concerns about the state of humanity, our capacity for consciousness, and a conspiracy around her by saying,

"Well, I think the universal mind has been asleep abit, eh as far as this planet goes, I mean in this galaxy, that this uh planet, it's sort of itching abit. And it's sort of waking up a bit and doing something about it now... through us."

This he described as a conspiracy, but that it was "... a benign one." Time has proven him to be right on both counts, as 22 years later, the map below confirms:

This map is a snapshot taken of the geographic locations of daily visitors to the SLS website – an extraordinary image of the 'benign conspiracy', and far beyond its usefulness as a concise reply to individuals who would see Laing's legacy diminished, (and/or, who may simply be out of touch with current times) this map reflects the waking up taking place all over the world to conscious humanity. Consider that, if this little endeavour to preserve Laing's contribution realises this level of awareness - imagine what all of the movements toward humane treatment, to an end to war, oppression, tyranny in all forms, would look like altogether on a map like this.

At the least, it could be said that the spirit of collective engagement in the "thoroughly self-conscious and self-critical human account of man" that Laing insisted on is being globally embraced, and we have good reason to be hopeful for the future.

But for our part, since the last update, we have added just over 40,000 words worth of new content, including R.D. Laing's The Obvious, articles and essays by John Heaton, Gavin Miller, Paul Zweig, Francis Mansbridge, as well as a Model Consent Form for psychiatric treatment. We've completed the transition of all content to a single graphic style, and greatly expanded the Quotations page. And last but not least, we've restructured the Resources section and added a new section, In the News, to provide a small library of news items that mark milestones in the progress toward humane psychiatry.


Locations of visitors to this page

Statistics on the countries where visitors to this site are located.
thank you, ClustrMaps.

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